Picture of simpler times
Tastebuds soda fountain has Wilmore mouths salivating
By Tyler Young
Tucked in the middle of historic downtown Wilmore is another snapshot of a simpler time. Tastebuds is an old-fashioned soda fountain with a black-and-white tiled floor and red cushioned swivel chairs that evokes a feeling of being in a different era. That’s because the restaurant has changed very little since its opening.
“A lot of people come in here who come to Asbury for reunions, and they’ll talk about ‘I was here 30 years ago, and I met my girlfriend in this booth or my boyfriend in that booth, and they’re just coming back to visit,” owner Gary Hoenicke said. “All of that’s still here. We still do sodas and shakes and homemade apple pie.”
That was the goal of Gary and his wife, Beth, when they moved to Wilmore from Detroit and took the reins of managing the restaurant. The red counter and the original booths are still there, as well as Sim’s drugstore, another staple of the downtown area that shares the building. They have also made a couple of additions since their arrival in 2006.
“We’ve added a few different pizzas,” Gary said. “We tweak the recipes a little bit. We had people from Chicago come in and say ‘Oh, this is good pizza.’ When you get ‘em from Chicago saying it’s good — it’s good.”
The demand for pizza has been so high that the Hoenickes have had to go from ordering three cases of cheese each week to four.
A business like Tastebuds is perfect in a town like Wilmore that prides itself on maintaining its roots and remains a peaceful, family-oriented town.
“We’ve gotten to know everybody in town,” Gary said. “That part’s awesome. We get a steady flow in here everyday. Not many bad people here. It’s nice to come in and see people pray before they eat. You don’t get that where we come from, in Detroit, you just don’t see that very often.”
It’s not just locals that get to know the Tastebuds staff, either. With the diverse backgrounds of the students at Asbury College and Asbury Theological Seminary, plenty of visitors get the chance to experience the store.
“Now that we’ve been here two years, we get people that were here last year,” Gary said. “They come visit the kids at Asbury, and they say ‘We can’t come to town to visit our kids without stopping at Tastebuds.’ So that works out well. You get to see old faces.”
Gary said that the pizzas are the most popular items on the menu, most notably the works and the pepperoni. He also sends out an e-mail to customers each week letting them know what soups they will have available.
Lunch is the busiest time for the restaurant, but the doors open regularly throughout the day.
“When high school gets out, we get a few kids in for sodas and shakes, and the art folks from across the street come over here and get pizzas and drinks and candy,” Gary said.
“Our customers are great, the town is great, we have great employees,” Beth said.
Tastebuds is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
Copyright:The Jessamine-Journal 2008